Caught by the net of illusion

Caught by the net of illusion

<![CDATA[From Bombay Richard travelled a few hours east to Ganesh Puri to the ashram of Nityananda Baba, whose sacred tomb or Samadhi attracted lot of visitors. Here he felt spiritual vibrations more than real life. He was surprised to see the followers of the Baba chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, the one Mother Ganges had revealed to him and which Srila Prabhupada had sung in Bombay.

He also visited Goa and at the Calangute Beach, he saw the same old scene that he had left behind in Europe; open consumption of drugs, intimate interactions between men and women, and rock and roll blaring. Uninterested, Richard walked through the sand and caught himself mentally criticizing the men and women. He prayed to be free from fault finding, but it was hard. On another day he saw a fish flapping desperately in the sand and Richard resolved to return him to his home in the sea. But each time the fish kept getting washed to the shore. Finally he held the fish in his cupped palms, tread into the ocean up to his neck and hurled him as far as he could. Then the fish was safe. Later he saw fishermen with their nets; the net was filled with hundreds of such little fish flapping for life and doomed to the frying pan. Richard soberly thought
“We are all like fish that have separated from the sea of divine consciousness. For a person to be happy outside his or her natural relation with God is like a fish trying to enjoy life outside of the water, on the dry sand. Holy people go to great extremes to help even one person to return to his or her natural spiritual consciousness, to the sea of true joy. But the net of maya, or illusion, snatches away the minds of the masses, diverting us from our true self-interest.”

Radhanath Swami implores practicing spiritualists to be careful of the temptations offered by the forces of illusion, maya, that threaten to distract a person from spiritual consciousness. He says, “A spiritualist hears two voices; God whispers in one ear and maya whispers in the other. Spiritual life throws up a choice of whose voice we prefer to hear.” Radhanath Swami defines maya as ‘that which is not’. In other words when we see things separately from their connection with God, we are trapped by the power of illusion.

When does maya act upon a soul? Radhanath Swami explains that we are all originally residents of the spiritual world. Just like, salt is by definition salty; sugar-sweet; water-liquid, similarly the living entity is naturally a servant of God, and experiences the bliss of complete freedom in rendering service to God in the spiritual world. Instead when we exercise our free will to attempt to be a master in this temporary material world, and enjoy independent of God, maya imprisons the soul in a material body. In the human body, the entrapped soul is blessed with the ability to break free from the shackles of material consciousness, and reestablish his or her loving relationship with God. Unfortunately however, most humans use their advanced mental faculties to only further the bodily comforts, and thereby ensure prolonged imprisonment in this world. Despite all attempts to squeeze out happiness from these perishable bodies, ironically, the soul- the prisoner in this material body- only experiences constant frustrations, and a deep sense of voidness.

A spiritualist therefore abandons material enjoyment preferring to choose a path of prayer and service. As Radhanath Swami aptly presents, “Essentially the living entity within material existence has two choices; to be a puppet of maya on the strings of material energy or to be a puppet of God on the strings of His love, and compassion.” Maya’s puppet experiences only frustrations, while God’s puppet experiences supreme bliss. To seek enjoyment is a natural propensity of all; a spiritualist chooses the right method to obtain it.


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